Many years ago, while watching Oprah, I heard a very profound statement that I believe speaks to a phenomenon many women face. Country music artist Wynonna Judd, said that when her career was at its peak, she found herself spiraling, as she realized she “forgot to put herself on the list”… for weeks this statement resonated in my heart… long before I was a wife, mom, or therapist. I became aware of the tendency to take care of and prioritize the needs of others above my own. Do you find that you do the same? Work hard at your professional/career goals, prepare meals, keep house and provide support for your significant other/children, care for young children or aging parents, reach out to girlfriends and celebrate their accomplishments and/or encourage them in their times of distress, serve in your local church/faith community. Each of these things is noble, even necessary… but the question remains… where are you on the list?
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I am often confronted with the concern I have for others and making myself a priority. There are MANY responsibilities and expectations upon us from day to day and sometimes it seems there isn’t enough time to get it all done. Let alone time to take for yourself but this is ESSENTIAL to our overall wellbeing and the quality of our relationships, particularly the relationship we have with ourselves. Let’s consider three steps we can take to put and keep ourselves on THE LIST:
- Schedule me time/self-care as an important meeting that cannot be missed. Each of us has some sort of planner or calendar (paper and pen or electronic) upon which we record upcoming appointments. Take yours out now- yes now 🙂 and block out a 15-30 minute window that is just for YOU each week. During this time, do something that is just for YOU, not errands for others or the house/office, etc. Maybe order a cup of your favorite coffee/tea from a local coffeehouse; pick up a new lipstick, eyeshadow, or nail polish; enjoy a meal at a new restaurant/cafe; or check out Living Social or Groupon for upcoming activities that interest you (make sure to tag them so you can followup by scheduling the activity). The idea is to get in the habit of creating guarded time to spend tending to YOU. Over time, increase the frequency and length of time spent focusing on/prioritizing you. YOU deserve it and you’re worth it!
- Set a reminder and consider having someone hold you accountable. It occurs to me that many of us, myself included, have good intentions but somewhere between intentions and follow through distractions come up. If you use an electronic calendar, you can set reminders for your me time/self-care appointment. I usually set one an hour before and then another for the travel time before. Some women also find it helpful to share their intention with a trusted friend/colleague or mentor whom they’ve given permission to check in with about progress, as they are likely to encourage and support this step toward your overall well being.
- If you forget, do it when you remember. When trying to develop a new habit or lifestyle, consistency and practice are key. While we are optimistic about being able to stick with our me time/self-care appointment, life has a way of intruding. When this happens, remind yourself that YOU matter too and that time for you is a gift to you and those around you. If time allows, in the moment, do something for you. If not, review the previous steps and remind yourself that this investment— guarded time spent tending to YOU matters because YOU belong on the list. If you find that you struggle to see time for yourself as valuable or the pressures of life too daunting, contact me for individual counseling in Bowie, MD.